Yesterday environmental and community groups came together for a bus tour and rallies outside five legislative offices in Ocean and Monmouth Counties to build support for an override vote on the Fracking Waste Ban bill. The Bus for Progress was packed with activists demanding these important protections be put in place. Additional rallies were held across the state urging our Legislators to stand up for clean water and override Governor Christie’s veto. Hundreds of individuals came out to demand protections from this dangerous waste.
This bill is critical for stopping the disposal of fracking waste in our state. This bill can protect our drinking water and environment from industry waste that can contain over 700 chemicals and radioactive materials. Companies in New Jersey have already been accepting wastewater, drill cuttings, and sludges. Thousands of residents have already written to legislators demanding a ban and now activists will be delivering letters those letters and urging legislators to publically support an override.
We took this bus tour because we need to get the New Jersey legislature moving on banning fracking waste in the state of New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy should be an eye-opener about the potential that waste can have on our waterways. We need the Legislature to override the Governor’s veto to protect our drinking water for future generations. We need to put the override into overdrive.
The bus tour and rallies were held in front of the offices of legislators that voted yes on the bill in the past but have not committed to vote yes again in an override vote. The Legislature passed the bill with strong, bipartisan support and groups are calling on these legislators to continue to stand up for our clean water and override the Governor’s veto. The Bus Tour will visit the offices of the Senator Chris Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, Senator James Holzapfel, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Casagrande, and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin. Individual rallies will be held at the offices of Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, Assemblyman David Russo, Senator Kevin O’Toole and Assemblyman Scott Rumana, and Senator Tom Kean Jr.
According to Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, “Frack Waste is highly toxic and New Jersey facilities are not equipped to treat this dangerous waste yet fracking companies want to dump it here. One thing we cannot tolerate is more toxics, especially when Hurricane Sandy has shown us how difficult it is to contain pollution and contaminated runoff in a catastrophe. For the sake of our health and the environment, we are calling upon our Legislators to affirm their support for clean water and protected communities by saying NO to frack waste dumping in New Jersey with an override of the Governor’s veto of the Frack Waste Ban Bill.”
During Hurricane Sandy we saw a number of problems at water treatment plants, resulting in raw sewage and other dangerous materials being discharged directly in our waterways. If we allow frakcing waste to be brought into New Jersey that waste could also potentially reach our waterways in such a weather event. The Passaic Valley Plant alone spilled over 2 billion gallons of raw sewage into Newark bay. Other plants in Sayreville, Hoboken, and Union Beach also discharged sewage in the aftermath of the storm, resulting in between 400 to 500 million gallons being discharged everyday across the state. Stormwater can also flood the pipes entering treatment plants causing combined sewer overflows with sewerage entering waterways like in Hoboken. Adding fracking waste to this mix would add over 700 chemicals to the mix.
A recent study out of Stony Brook University found that the biggest threat to drinking water supplies from the fracking process came from the disposal of waste water. The fracking process creates millions of gallons of wastewater and solids for every new well drilled and each well can be fracked multiple times. Fracking waste contains over 700 hundred chemicals, many of them known carcinogens. The gas industry is not required to disclose all the chemicals used in the process, and with these unknown additives it is impossible to know the full threat fracking waste presents. The waste also contains harmful natural contaminants released from deep underground in the fracking process and brought back to the surface, including radioactive materials.
David Pringle, Campaign Director for NJ Environmental Federation noted, "As we recover from Sandy, we can't make things worse. Legislators need to stick to their beliefs, vote again to prevent frack waste from being discharged into New Jersey waters and contributing to more climate change and more severe weather.”
Fracking waste is already coming into New Jersey. The DuPont plant in Deepwater has accepted partially treated fracking wastewater. The Clean Earth facilities in Kearny and Carteret have accepted fracking drill cuttings at their landfills. LORCO Petroleum Services in Elizabeth has accepted over 105,000 gallons of drilling fluids produced during fracking. The DEP recently revised guidelines on this type of waste but is still allowing it to be disposed of in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to handle the toxins found in fracking wastewater and cannot remove all the chemicals before discharging the waste into our waterways. This could potentially lead to the discharge of dangerously high levels of harmful pollutants into our rivers, groundwater, estuaries, and bays.
Fracking waste is exempted from critical federal protections regulating the disposal of hazardous waste and hazardous materials. This free pass from important standards increases the risks to public health and the environment. There are also safety concerns with the transportation of the waste into the state. There could be accidental spills as fracking wastewater is being trucked to treatment plants with impacts to local communities, water bodies and groundwater.
The Fracking Waste Ban Bill passed the Assembly 56-19 and the Senate 30-5. For an override vote 27 votes are needed in the Senate and 54 votes are needed in the Assembly.